Barnaby Robson

Artist Photo

Principal Clarinet
English National Opera Orchestra

"I was first given a Légère plastic reed to try by a friend of mine in Australia. Before giving it a blow, my initial thoughts were fairly skeptical..... However, I must say that when I actually tried the reed I was more than pleasantly surprised! Having now had the opportunity to try several different strengths and cuts of the Légère reeds I have settled on using a 3.5. The consistency in the strengths is outstanding - I must say that I've been increasingly frustrated by traditional reed manufacturers’ lack of consistency between the grades. With Légère you know exactly what you're getting straight out of the box.

I also found that I didn't need a 'try out' period before I felt comfortable playing the reeds in public. In fact, within a day or so I was using them on tour with the Philharmonia, including live radio broadcasts in some fairly challenging repertoire. The quality & consistency of sound is excellent and the way to use the reeds is slightly different from the 'traditional' approach in that they need to be rotated on a daily basis in order to avoid them becoming tired. But this works fine because of the consistency between the reeds - you really can't tell one from another. All in all the Légère product is a huge asset to the clarinettist's reed armoury. I've had a very positive reaction from my colleagues in the clarinet section as well as some of the double reed players in the orchestra too – ‘when are they going to make one for us’ they ask!” - Barnaby Robson

Having studied clarinet, early clarinet and recorders at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, Barnaby went on to study as a Fulbright Scholar at the Julliard School in New York. Here, he won the School’s Concerto Prize, performing Copland’s Clarinet Concerto in a series of concerts at the Lincoln Centre. His subsequent Purcell Room debut as part of the Park Lane Group series was critically acclaimed.

Barnaby performed as principal clarinet of the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1998-2013 (appointed 2000). With this world class orchestra he played for conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Charles Mackerras and Riccardo Muti. He was also a member of the Soloists of the Philharmonia, performing recitals across the UK with regular appearances at London's Wigmore Hall and recording chamber repertoire including Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" for Signum Classics. His playing can be heard on numerous Philharmonia CD's, broadcasts and film scores.

In April 2014, Barnaby joined the English National Opera Orchestra as principal clarinet. He continues to perform with many of the UK's other major symphony, opera and chamber orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.

Barnaby is an accomplished chamber musician, appearing regularly with artists including Andras Schiff, Michael Collins, London Winds, Artur Pizarro, Thomas Adés, Belcea Quartet, Endymion Ensemble and London Conchord Ensemble. He is a founder member of the Zanfonia Trio, performing all of the existing clarinet, violin and piano repertoire and commissioning new works. Barnaby has recorded chamber repertoire for ASV, BBC and EMI and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. BBC Music Magazine praised their most recent recording as a "fine disc…leaving me hungry to hear more".

Barnaby is a regular contributor to TV and film scores, recording with the London session orchestras at studios such as Abbey Rd and AirLyndhurst. Film credits include "Pawn Sacrifice" for James Newton Howard, "Spirit of 45" and "Jimmy's Hall" for George Fenton and "Kon-Tiki" for Johan Söderqvist. He recorded the Spohr Clarinet Concertos as soloist with the Philharmonia, for the Miramax film "With or Without You", directed by Michael Winterbottom.

He is professor of modern and early clarinet at the Royal College of Music and has given master classes at all of the UK's leading conservatories and in Switzerland, Singapore, Australia and Iceland.

Please visit for more on Barnaby Robson’s many great achievements.